Mr Geraint Howells: I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention. I am sure that he is aware that the Secretary of State for Wales has not been there once during the past six years. I take the Minister at his word, but there are many Scottish farmers who are interested in beef and sheep farming—as well as fishing.
Mr Geraint Howells: It would do a power of good for farmers in Wales. We need somebody to represent us in Brussels. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that many farmers have criticised the Secretary of State for Wales for not going to Brussels and speaking and standing up on behalf of the farmers of Wales. The Government should persuade our friends in Europe to have a beef scheme similar to our sheepmeat...
Mr Geraint Howells: I never mentioned milk surpluses. With respect, the hon. Gentleman has got it wrong again. I do not know what has come over Conservative Members tonight. This is a short but important debate. Finally, I turn to decentralisation. It is the only way in which the regions of England will survive. The nations of Wales and Scotland want their own Government and regional assemblies in England to...
Mr Geraint Howells: If the Minister believes that the Government policy for England at present is the best, has he any plans to abolish the Welsh and Scottish Development Agencies?
Mr Geraint Howells: Does the Secretary of State have any further plans to reduce unemployment in mid-Wales, and in Teifi valley in particular?
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Secretary of State inform the House why the many dairy farmers who have left the industry have turned their backs on the outgoers scheme during the past two years?
Mr Geraint Howells: The Secretary of State told us, and I am prepared to believe him, that Wales has done marginally better than local authorities in England in the allocation of rate support grant for 1987–88. It may even be true that this settlement is an improvement on those we have had in the recent past. Many of my parliamentary colleagues may disagree with me, but I am sure that the Secretary of State is...
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how average farm incomes in the United Kingdom for the latest available period compare with those for the other nine member states of the European Community.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, but is he aware that between 1980 and 1986 the net incomes of farmers in Wales dropped by 34 per cent., while the net incomes of farmers in the United Kingdom dropped by 21 per cent.? Does the blame for that lie with the Secretary of State for Wales, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Government, or the EEC?
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Minister tell the House why he supports the Irish beef producers so that they can make a profit while beef producers in the United Kingdom make a loss?
Mr Geraint Howells: In the near future, is there any chance of persuading our friends in Europe to accept a scheme for beef similar to the one that we have for lamb?
Mr Geraint Howells: I respect the hon. Gentleman enormously. He has made a major contribution to agriculture while he has been a Member, and I wish him the best in his retirement, but today, being his final fling, he is trying to brainwash British agriculture into thinking that farmers are so well off that there is no need for them to worry or look ahead. Can the hon. Gentleman explain why, over the past four...
Mr Geraint Howells: Not that again.
Mr Geraint Howells: I can assure Gloucestershire farmers that the alliance has no plans to rate agricultural land. To make the point even clearer, we have already had two apologies from Ministers who suggested that.
Mr Geraint Howells: The Minister has apologised once already.
Mr Geraint Howells: The hon. Gentleman is misleading the House again.
Mr Geraint Howells: Can the Secretary of State tell the House what are the latest developments in the worst unemployment black spot in Wales, the Teifi valley?
Mr Geraint Howells: I should like to make a plea on behalf of my constituents and the people of mid-Wales. Will the Minister consider giving extra financial aid to the East Dyfed health authority to enable it to build the urgently needed second phase at Bronglais hospital, Aberystwyth?
Mr Geraint Howells: asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the present state of the dairy industry in Wales.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am sure that the Minister would be the first to admit that many dairy farmers in west Wales face financial problems, which many will find it difficult to overcome. To whom does the Secretary of State attribute blame? Is it the Government of the day, the EEC, his colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, or himself?